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Interior 600 Report
by Bob Goodison

What makes an epic ride? I’m not sure, but this must have been one because so many people have chosen to write about it. Or maybe we are just trying to keep Harold happy. In any case, the new revision of an old 600 route that was last done before I started rando riding proved challenging and fun.

We started out in overcast, cool (bordering on cold) conditions in Vernon. After stopping before I got out of the parking lot in a paranoid double check to make sure my control card and wallet were in my bag, I started out behind everyone else. I’ll bet someone else wishes they had done that. I passed Mike, Bob/Dierdre, Richard and Randy in Vernon, and caught Ross and Doug on the climb out of town. After riding with them for a few minutes, I pulled ahead and caught Tracy and Graham. We rode together for some time, then Doug and Ross caught us and we rode into Lumby together. Graham stopped to put on warmer gloves, and told us not to wait, so I didn’t. Apparently everyone else did, and I found myself riding alone.

Ian, Ryan and Ken were way out front, and all are faster than me so I obviously wasn’t going to catch them. I figured it wouldn’t be long before the group I had just left, plus Randy, caught me so I would have some company. On the descent toward Cherryville I scored a major personal achievement. I rode down the whole hill without using my brakes. Maybe there is hope for me. On a climb shortly after Cherryville I saw a cyclist in the distance, gradually growing nearer. Who could it be? Surprise! It was Ken. We rode up the Monashee pass at a conversational pace, mostly side by side as there was virtually no traffic. Ken has lots of informative gizmos on his bike and kept me posted on important bits of info- temperature (down to 5 degrees C), and the grade percentage (13% max). We passed the summit and enjoyed the descent, keeping the speed reasonable as there were some tricky corners. After reaching flat ground again, we decided that there was a remote chance we might make the 10:15 ferry at Needles. I was warming up and I really wanted my jacket off, but didn’t want to stop. On the last climb before the ferry I opened it ¾ way. We were a little more than a km from the ferry when we met the cars that had just come off. My jacket acted like a parachute and severely limited my speed as we made a last attempt to make it on time. The gate was already down, but Ken went around it and I followed. I wasn’t even off my bike before the ferry was underway. Another surprise- Ryan and Ian were on it too. Ian had lost a rather expensive headlight and asked if we had seen it but we had not. They had also had a close call on one of those tricky corners I mentioned earlier- tires chattering sideways towards the edge of the road.

After the ferry, Ian and Ryan disappeared ahead, and I left the convenience store at Fauquier ahead of Ken. He passed me shortly after, and as we use different stores in Nakusp as controls, I didn’t see him and I assumed he was ahead of me. The road from Nakusp to the Galena Bay ferry was very hilly and more than a little tiring. The mind does strange things. Playing in my head over and over again was “Simply having a wonderful Christmastime”. Just the one line. Over and over. Further proof (if any was needed) that Paul McCartney should not have been allowed to write anything post-Beatles. Then Ken passed me. What? I saw a zip-lock bag on the side of the road with something yellow in it and thought “AHA! Someone has dropped their control card. I will pick it up and be a big hero!” I stopped and went back for it. It was a piece of melon rind. This was a good section, as there was no way I would make the 2:30 ferry and had loads of time to make the 3:30. No need to hurry. I didn’t do as well as some at animal spotting on this ride, but did see a black bear just before Halcyon Hot Springs. Ken was there at the ferry, but Ryan and Ian had made a superhuman effort and caught the 2:30. We met someone from Red Deer who had done a lot of cycle touring and was very interested in what we were doing so we referred him to the Alberta Randonneurs. Ken and I rode together sporadically to Revelstoke, where we once again got separated, and I once again assumed he was ahead of me. I had a bowl of Timmy’s chili and headed for Salmon Arm

I stopped again in Salmon Arm for more fluids, and phoned Susan to let her know that I was feeling good and was not going to stop at home for a nap. The feeling good lasted until just after Chase. Then, my speed would not stay above 24 kmh, and I was having trouble staying awake. I could get my speed up, but as soon as I stopped looking at my computer it would drop back to 24. Finally just west of Pritchard I stopped and tried Harold’s quick-nap trick. It worked for about 10 km. Then a strange light that didn’t make the right sounds for any type of vehicle came up behind me and said “Hi Bob”. Ken again. What? Suddenly awake and with new legs we hammered into the Gateway Shell control, and decided to ride the rest of the way together. We were quite surprised when they told us we were the first ones through. Where were Ian and Ryan? Lots of theories and speculation.

The Monte Creek hill is the most mean-spirited hill I know. I have ridden it often enough so that it no longer fools me with its false summits, but it is tedious nonetheless, but better in the dark. Ken was keeping me informed. Altitude gain of more than 5000 m, temperature dropping to 2 degrees C at 4:00 am near Westwold. I was wishing I had listened to Susan when she suggested I take my x-c ski gloves. It gradually warmed up as the sun came up and we enjoyed a slight tailwind as we rode through rural Armstrong, and then to the finish in Vernon. We were finished. We were tired. We were happy. I loved the route- minimal traffic, spectacular scenery, and strategically placed ferries to rest on. I’d do it again, just not tomorrow.

Epilogue: Ian phoned Richard’s wife Fearon at about midnight to say he was packing it in. After a good nights sleep he reconsidered and rode to the finish. Ryan decided at Sorrento that he no longer wanted to ride the RM 1200, and therefore didn’t need to finish the 600. By Monday he had reconsidered, and is back on for the 1200, pending his finish of the upcoming 1000 km as a last minute qualifier. Way to go guys!

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June 19, 2008